Being Mortal: Join Us for the Spring Shared Reading Experience

Looking for a thought-provoking activity? Join local NDWC groups and alumnae around the globe for our eighth Shared Reading Experience, which will coincide with Lent. Many of you read Girl at War with us this fall (thanks!), and we’re looking forward to another opportunity for lively and engaging discussion. It was a tight race, but the results are in, and the winning book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande.

Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health leader. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. In Being Mortal, Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life, but also the process of its ending. (Continue reading for a longer description of the book.)

Here's how you can participate in the Shared Read

  • READ.  Pick up a copy of Being Mortal and read along with us.
  • JOIN.  Participate in our virtual discussion via the Shared Read Facebook group (begins Wednesday, March 6 and wraps up on Wednesday, April 17). You'll get a suggested reading schedule as well as reflection questions, background info about the author and more. All are encouraged to follow along and post questions and comments on the group page.
  • DISCUSS.  In addition to the online conversation, you may check with your NDWC local group (if applicable) to see if they are planning an in-person discussion in March/April/May. Scheduled meet-ups will also be posted on the Shared Read Facebook group.

Love reading? We need your help!

To ensure a thought-provoking discussion, we need a range of voices bringing their own unique experiences and opinions. That’s where you come in! Please consider becoming a Shared Read volunteer for the Spring 2019 event. Here’s what you need to know:

  • What does it involve? Shared Read volunteers commit to reading the book and posting brief questions/observations/other interesting content to the virtual discussion via Facebook once a week for 6 weeks starting March 6 (more frequently, if you choose).
  • Do I have to be a "book expert" to volunteer? No expertise or special knowledge needed, and you don't need to worry about finishing the book before we begin. While some will have already finished reading by March 6, others may choose to follow our suggested reading schedule (average of 50 pages/week during the online discussion period) and post a question or comment that relates to what they've read thus far.
  • What if I'm not on Facebook? While we know that not everyone has a Facebook account, this is the most accessible platform for our discussion (at least for right now). Fortunately, it's free to sign up. If you wish, you can always create a Facebook account, join the NDWC Shared Read group, and close your account once the discussion is over.

I'm interested! What's next?
Email NDWC Shared Read Coordinator Susan Krenn ’04 at She'll ask you to pick a particular day of the week for your Facebook posts, e.g., every Tuesday during the 6-week event. She’ll also send you some sample posts so you have a better sense of what sort of content to contribute.

Thanks for considering & we look forward to reading with you! Don’t forget to join the Shared Read Facebook group to follow along and share your thoughts with other ND women.


About Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should.

Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients’ anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. And families go along with all of it.

In his bestselling books, Gawande has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now he examines its ultimate limitations and failures – in his own practices as well as others’ – as life draws to a close. And he discovers how we can do better. He follows a hospice nurse on her rounds, a geriatrician in his clinic, and reformers turning nursing homes upside down. He finds people who show us how to have the hard conversations and how to ensure we never sacrifice what people really care about.

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